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Genetics. 2000 Dec;156(4):1853-65.

Evolution of dosage compensation in Diptera: the gene maleless implements dosage compensation in Drosophila (Brachycera suborder) but its homolog in Sciara (Nematocera suborder) appears to play no role in dosage compensation.

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  • 1Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Velázquez 144, 28006 Madrid, Spain.


In Drosophila melanogaster and in Sciara ocellaris dosage compensation occurs by hypertranscription of the single male X chromosome. This article reports the cloning and characterization in S. ocellaris of the gene homologous to maleless (mle) of D. melanogaster, which implements dosage compensation. The Sciara mle gene produces a single transcript, encoding a helicase, which is present in both male and female larvae and adults and in testes and ovaries. Both Sciara and Drosophila MLE proteins are highly conserved. The affinity-purified antibody to D. melanogaster MLE recognizes the S. ocellaris MLE protein. In contrast to Drosophila polytene chromosomes, where MLE is preferentially associated with the male X chromosome, in Sciara MLE is found associated with all chromosomes. Anti-MLE staining of Drosophila postblastoderm male embryos revealed a single nuclear dot, whereas Sciara male and female embryos present multiple intranuclear staining spots. This expression pattern in Sciara is also observed before blastoderm stage, when dosage compensation is not yet set up. The affinity-purified antibodies against D. melanogaster MSL1, MSL3, and MOF proteins involved in dosage compensation also revealed no differences in the staining pattern between the X chromosome and the autosomes in both Sciara males and females. These results lead us to propose that different proteins in Drosophila and Sciara would implement dosage compensation.

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